Rotten Teeth Cause Cancer
Are You Feeding the Inflammation Cancer Pathway?
Delaying getting your pet’s teeth cleaned, or afraid of dentistry to pull funky teeth because of anesthesia risk?
If so, it’s time to do some risk/benefit analysis. Leaving bad teeth in may well be nudging your beloved towards the Big C.
Here’s what we know: inflammation is quite often, possibly always, linked to cancer. Inflammation, cancer. That’s a known pattern.
That’s why you might well recall an earlier injury to the same leg of your Golden Retriever where you’re now seeing a bony swelling that’s just gotten a horrible diagnosis: osteosarcoma.
But it turns out inflammation can be “called in” by tumors to enhance their growth, as well. How recent is this knowledge?
How about 150 years old?
I wrote earlier about Rudolf Virchow, early German pathologist, who countered the “germ theory” of disease, popular in his day and even now.
He studied tumors and found white blood cells inside. Cells like this are part of the inflammatory response to intruders.
…cancer biologists and immunologists have begun to realize that the progression from diseased tissue to full-blown invasive cancer often requires cells that normally participate in healing cuts and scrapes to be diverted to the environs of the premalignant tissue, where they are hijacked to become co-conspirators that aid and abet carcinogenesis (development of cancer -Ed).
As some researchers have described the malignant state: genetic damage is the match that lights the fire, and inflammation is the fuel that feeds it. [Source: Is Chronic Inflammation the Key to Unlocking the Mysteries of Cancer?]
Inflammation, cancer. The former feeds the latter.
Inflammation: Good vs Bad
Remember, you’d be lost without inflammation. It’s designed to help you heal. Cut yourself, get staph from your skin in the wound, inflammation is called in to kill those germs, stop the damage, make a scab, and get you back to normal skin again.
It’s when inflammation becomes chronic that you increase the risk for cancer and other serious diseases.
Chronic inflammation includes allergies. That’s what the Apoquel story revolves around. Including the side effect part should give you pause.
Chronic inflammation includes arthritis, and the ongoing joint pain that disease brings your animal.
And, the object of this post, chronic inflammation includes what happens in the gums when teeth have become diseased but haven’t fallen out yet.
So, a more appropriate name for this path is:
Chronic inflammation, cancer.
Try This At Home, Kids!
Does your dog or cat have chronic dental disease? That’s a common source of chronic inflammation.
Would you like to get an idea at home before you visit your vet? Here’s what to do.
- Without opening the mouth (which won’t win you points of trust), raise your pet’s upper lip and pull it back towards the corner of the lips.
- Do this on both sides of her mouth, first one, then the other.
- With a thumb and forefinger, do this in the front of her mouth, too. Here, you’ll start losing those trust points again, so save this move for after you’ve examined the sides.
- See red gums? Not healthy pink ones, but red, inflamed gums? That could be broad swaths of red, angry gums, or, more commonly in cats, a fine red line at the margin of the teeth.
- How about those teeth? Are they yellow or brown or encrusted with hard stuff instead of smooth and pearly white?
- Without putting your fingers in, get a general sense of bad breath. You likely know this already, just from being close.
Bad breath, red gums, and discolored teeth are all potential indicators that this mouth needs a vet exam and maybe dentistry.
Another is dropping food while eating. Or no longer interested in chewing hard foods, like bones. Both can indicate tooth pain, as you can well imagine.
Anesthetic Risk vs Cancer Risk
Anesthetic risk can be minimized in a couple of ways:
- Get a pre-anesthetic blood profile and exam.
- vets like to do this anyway, and it gives valuable information on organ function (those organs of elimination need to be healthy when we give anything potentially toxic, right?).
- the exam could uncover problems a blood profile wouldn’t, like a heart irregularity or a palpable internal tumor.
- Most modern clinics use isoflurane or sevoflurane inhalant anesthetics to maintain anesthesia. These are considered quite safe, and because their elimination from the body is via breathing, they don’t intoxicate long term and your animal is awake fairly quickly after the gas is turned off.
Weighing the safety of anesthesia, done with appropriate pretesting and protocols vs. the risk of maintaining a mouth riddled with inflammation, the dental work that removes bad teeth and allows thorough cleaning wins most every time.
Simple Extractions vs Root Canals
A reader asked about her animal getting a root canal recently for a damaged tooth. Having read about concerns in people with root canals years ago, I recommended she opt instead for extraction.
Haven’t you met cats and dogs with missing teeth?
They chew just fine, especially when they are fed real, balanced raw food diets. Many even chew bones, no problem.
When Bones Are Better
None of this negates what I’ve written about the tendency for Dr. WhiteCoat to want to clean teeth far too quickly. Please review this page on the best natural “toothbrush” there is: a raw bone.
Discolored teeth with healthy pink gums and decent breath will be helped by regular raw bone feeding. Just review how to approach that in the link above.
I’m talking here of loose, painful teeth, red, inflamed gums, and often breath that would stop a train. There’s pathology there, chronic inflammation, and that’s a risk to allow to continue.
Tell us about your experience with getting teeth out that needed to come out. Mine has been, post dentistry, these animals really pick up and feel better, eat better, and have much more energy. It’s a bit like pulling a heavy weight off their back.
My little dog is 14 years old. His breath is terrible adn he has 3 bottom front very wiggly teeth with black film on the bottom. I believe that they are rotten even though I brush his teeth. I’m scared to put him under to get them pulled and the vet tech said if they don’t bother him not to. However, I am worried about him. any suggestions on what I can do? Would you get a 2nd opinion and do you think I should put him under to get them pulled? I am thinking about giving him coconut oil and apple cider vinegar, do you think this will help? Thank you!!
Hello, Dr Falconer
I have an 11 yr old chihuahua, over the years I regretfully neglected his teeth and from what I can see of his teeth they are Yellow in color at the gumline and his breath had quite an odor, as for his gum condition they might be red although i dont have a clear look at them, after a month or so of adding beef and rib bones to his diet for the purpose of cleaning his teeth relying on the enzymes and the knawing on the bones I have noticed his over all health improving and his breath isn’t nearly as bad as it was he donsn’t appear to be bothered at all while chewing on the bones.
1. Should I be worried about health concerns with the condition of his teeth?
2. Over time will the bone chewing and enzyme eventually clean his teeth and improve his overall oral health?
I am not Dr Falconer (I am sure he will write back) but I just wanted to weigh in also, I think you’re on the right track, continue to feed Raw Meaty Bones that are the appropriate size for your little dog, and I would also consider raw bovine colostrum (Raw Feeding Miami has this for sale, it encourages strong bones and teeth and is great for healthy dogs), I would also feed bone broth and definitely try giving whole or chunked pieces of green tripe, it is extremely rubbery and a great natural teeth cleaner, as well as just being excellent for dogs, but esp. older dogs.
Thanks for the info,
I will definitely look into this, the bovine colostrum seems to be the best start for me I’m just starting to look into different ways to avoid as Will Falconer says Dr. White coat 🙂
If you’ve made good progress in a month of raw bone feeding and he has no issues chewing them (like favoring only one side of his mouth always), odds are high that continuing this course will give a great outcome.
Do that gum inspection, too, though. I explained it for just a scenario like this. You’ll have a better gauge of how you’re doing by looking in a good light for redness, swelling, etc. Just take your time and do it confidently and lovingly and you should have an easy time of it.
But: nice work!
Thanks Doc, appreciate your confidence. 🙂
@ Dianne C, If the symptoms are as you have described, please consider taking your dog to the emergency vet, asap. At least call them and see what they advise. They may recommend an x-ray, at the least.
I had a similar situation with one of my dogs, that is why I no longer feed bones, raw or otherwise, any type, shape, or form.
Best of luck.
Hi Will. My dogs have been doing fine on raw bones. They had a nice big e!k leg they’ve been working on and off for a week now. Loki is acting like he swallowed a big chunk and it may be causing a blockage. Anything I can do to help him move it before taking him to the traditional vet? I wish we were still in Austin to see you! He vomited this afternoon and I just kept a close eye on him. Now he’s vomited again 10 hours after his last meal. Otherwise he appears fine. Keeps asking to go out to go but he does nothing. Doesn’t even try.
These are sometimes amenable to the remedy phosphorus. Some, to calendula in potency. But it’s best to seek the help of a trained homeopathic professional as they can also get to emergency status, peritonitis, etc.
All the best.
Very timely info, Doc! My Baby kitty is nearly 17 and doing great since switching to raw 2 yrs ago. Her teeth have improved some but there is still a lot of brownish yellow tartar on the back molars. There’s some swelling and redness. Her breath is mostly unnoticeable but a few days a week can get stinky. She nearly died from both liver and kidney failure (each incident caused by rx vet meds) so I’m hesitant to consider having the teeth cleaned. I don’t mind cutting her food into tiny pieces to facilitate eating but hadn’t considered the implications of leaving the tartar. Would appreciate your opinion as there are NO holistic vets anywhere near here.
Thanks so much! Pamela and Baby
Hi Pamela, and welcome to the comments.
I’m concerned that there may be chronic inflammation here. It’s not the tooth color, but the gums being swollen and red that makes me say this. Along with the foul breath.
I’d pursue a full mouth exam, which would take some light sedation. They have safe, reversible drugs these days (you should completely be upfront and disallow ketamine, however!). If they find some teeth that should come out, they can take the necessary precautions I mentioned and get that done as well.
Odds are, she’ll have a far better quality of life going forward if the teeth that need to come out are attended to. And I’m guessing they’ll find some. I could be wrong, but you’ll know with a good exam, maybe some radiographs to assess root integrity.
Obviously: no vaccines! At her age, way more risk than benefit.
All the best to you and Baby.
The idea of having her sedated is still scary to me…. I wouldn’t have considered it without your article. Thanks for your help! And for the newsletters!!! I have passed them on to many, although I’m afraid that most folks are comfortable sticking with the “guy we’ve gone to for years”.
Bless you, Dr Falconer!
Baby has had her teeth cleaned and extracted and she is feeling so much better! Back in Jan. when I first asked for your opinion on her condition, I was about to go spend 2 weeks with our grandson, so I knew that wasn’t a good time to put her thru surgery. Shortly after I returned I suffered a concussion, and spent months overcoming the after effects (natural means, only).
I talked with a couple of vet clinics and dental specialists and chose to stay with the local vet we’ve used for the past 8 yrs. Dr K was amenable to my NO ketamine, NO antibiotic requirements and yesterday he did the cleaning and extractions. Four teeth were removed, 5 were already missing. Had I not read your article I probably wouldn’t have considered having this procedure done for fear of losing her…..
so a great big THANKS to you for showing me that there were valid reasons to risk anesthesia on my ‘old’ girl!
Once again her blood work caused astonishment b/c it showed all organs functioning within ‘given parameters’ and NO organic disease. I’ve been reading your information since the days you began at Shirleys Wellness Cafe and credit that with her current status! You are so appreciated, Doc! Thanks again!
Pamela and Baby!
Hi Dr. Falconer,
Toby is now 7 months old and has never had a recurrence of symptoms from his second puppy series shot after being treated by the homeopathic vet you referred me to. He does, however, have bad breath. I noticed several weeks ago that his juvenile canines had not fallen out as the adult canines came in, and I finally had to have them removed (to the tune of $300 — and incidentally did not get him neutered at the same time.) I hoped that the bad breath would go away but it has not. I feed him strictly frozen raw beef, chicken, turkey, duck (with vegetables) and give him raw marrow bones to gnaw on regularly…in fact, there are at least 3 bones available at all times. His teeth are very clean. After chewing on a new bone, his breath is greatly improved, but then returns and is worse in the morning or after being in his crate for 2 hours while we are away. Perhaps he is dehydrated? I’ve read that dogs on a raw diet do not drink as much water. Anyway, I was wondering what you think might be going on and if you recommend any special treatment. Thanks in advance,
Anytime there’s a persistent symptom like this, Cassi, and diet doesn’t fix it, it indicates chronic disease. As such, it’s best treated with homeopathy, in the context of the whole dog. That’s best done via appointments with a homeopathic professional.
Hi Dr. Falconer:
My 13-year-old pit bull terrier has not been herself lately. I had an ultrasound of her abdomen, and it was normal. I just had a test for Cushings and blood work. My Vet told me that she has Leukemia. Her blood work numbers are off the charts is what he told me. Should I pursue homeopathic treatment or do you think it might be too late? I don’t know if you are taking on any new patients. Please advise. Thank you!
It’s never too late to pursue homeopathic treatment, but I’m not taking chronic cases like hers for a while now. Best of luck.
Sorry, this is a question on the article on Borax. Had to leave it here as there is not comment section for the article. Trying to figure out how much to use. The article says standard dosing is 1 teaspoon in a liter of water. But you said you were using 1/8 teaspoon a day. If I put it in water how much do I give my small dogs or me for that matter. It sounds beneficial if I can just figure out the dosing. Thanks.
I won’t be advising on dosing this. You’ll have to read the article closely and decide what makes sense for you. There are a few different ways to dose mentioned. Careful reading is in order, along with due diligence.
I think I’ve read all the articles and done the maths for myself. One rounded tsp of borax disolved in 1 litre of water and taking one tsp of that mixture provides the optimal serving of 3mg of boron per day. I wonder if this may help with tooth plaque as well? Pour over food or give direct into the mouth, I don’t add to the water bowl as with multiple dogs I cannot monitor the dose.
Just to add to the discussion, my warts have disappeared with the addition of turmeric to my diet. My wonderful Cypriot podiatrist said of course it’s antiviral (he didn’t suggest it years ago when I was plaqued with verrucas but equally would not treat them)!
I’ve taken a dim view of dental procedures since my 17 year old cat Boo died shortly after one. She never fully recovered from the anesthesia. That being said, I’ve come to the conclusion that my tiny cancer patient Pookie is not eating enough because her teeth hurt–she has two partially rotted ones–and she’s generally inactive despite the fact that the tumor has shrunk to nothing and her blood tests are pretty good, but she’s too thin.
Another concern is the darn antibiotics Dr. Whitecoat prescribes, which destroyed her gut flora. It took months to rebuild it, along with doses of Flow Free & Recovery, Nux Vomica. The Dr. will want to give another course, of course.
The bacteria from bad teeth are causing some digestive inflammation I believe, due to occasional bouts of vomiting and constipation. I do think pulling the bad teeth might resolve things, & it might be time to reconsider. It’s a really hard decision to make because of her heart murmur, low weight and the drugs/toxins associated with extraction. I’d like to see her completely well again, and I don’t think I’m going to get there unless the bad teeth come out.
I’m glad you posted this article, doc. Food for thought. Oh, and thanks for the link to the borax article, & nod, you’re welcome!
Oh, the antibiotics. Forgot to address that, and will in a future post. I tell my clients to just say NO.
And “No” is a complete sentence.
We’ll often just strengthen the immune responsiveness for a few days prior and a week after with extra Transfer Factor. That means a base level of the Complete (Feline or Canine) and adding additional TF Plus caps.
Never have had a problem nor do I expect one in the future. The whole “runaway mouth bacteria” myth is born out of the germ theory, itself a myth.
Thanks for your articles, Dr. Falconer. This one on dental issues and the next on antibiotics re dental surgery is especially timely, as Mola, my 14-yr-old cattle dog-sharpei mix (? we may never really know…) has an upper canine that has become almost completely covered by gum tissue after 5 months. He has always been the youngest-seeming old dog I’ve ever known, but this past summer I noticed he wasn’t quite himself. He had a coughing episode one day, at which point I had a look and saw that his gum had begun to swell up around that tooth.
I knew he needed dental cleaning, but I didn’t know his tooth was that in-need-of-attn, as he had “bad” teeth when he came to me almost 11 years ago. I found out at a recent vet visit (in order to find out more about dental options for his increasingly swollen gum) that he has a grade 3 or 4 out of 6 heart murmur (never been noticed before by any vet), so he has to see the cardiologist before he can be put under for X-rays and any work by the dental specialist (we went in Nov to Dr. Redman in San Antonio who used to come to AVES here in Austin once a wk; if you would recommend a different dentist here in Aus, please let me know). He has the cough that seems is common in animals with heart issues, and he coughed for the 1st time in a while and threw up (apparently from the cough) a few days ago. That nausea has been lingering since, for which I’ve been giving him Nux Vomica (seems to help). Are there other remedies you’d recommend for this? He’s air/fire constitution, so is a mover/shaker by nature, would prefer to be looking for something to chase every waking moment… up until recently with this tooth/heart condition/s that are clearly making him much more “tired”.
The cardiologist doesn’t have an opening until March (!), and Mo’s vitality seems to be dropping relatively quickly – I know that the sooner we can find out what’s up with his tooth and extract it, the better, but I don’t know what else to do at this point other than use remedies to help with symptoms/imbalances and get him on the immune support you recommend.
I’ve had a fear that the rotten tooth, which his body clearly wants to absorb up, thus inflammation, will end up causing cancer in the bone nearby… Goes right along with this article. Or I’d been thinking that the tooth issue might be causing/contributing to the heart issue. But then maybe not after reading the reference in your recent post to dental bacteria not contributing to disease in areas farther away…
I know I need to focus on getting him in the best shape, systemically, for any pending surgery he’ll need. But I’m also afraid the cardiologist is going to want to put him on standard “heard meds”, which I have no idea about, so don’t know if any of those actually make it “safe” for him to be put under –or cause side effects that would make it less safe.! Being one who avoids allopathic meds, I don’t really feel like there’s any drug that’s going to necessarily make it safer for him to be put under. Do you have any recs on this, doc? Or know of specific heart drugs to avoid/use that would help Mo to endure a successful dental surgery/tooth extraction?
Thanks for keeping us focused on the facts, Dr. Falconer, and for bringing this community of animal-lovers together to share info!
I think you’re barking up the wrong tree, to borrow an appropriate phrase. This tooth may well be perfectly normal. It’s the gum that’s showing proliferative growth. Gum tumors are not unusual in dogs. Google it. What you do with this is up to you, but surgery is but one (suppressive) answer.
Hmmm… I did some research on gingival hyperplasia, as well as tumors, and Mo’s gum tissue is literally growing directly over/covering the tooth, which looked dark inside before this started, like a cloak (he also has cracked canine on other side – was like this when I got him – who knows what happened…). So I just assumed what Dr. Redman thought – that the tissue is growing over to try to absorb the bad tooth. Unfortunately, he can’t have an x-ray until he’s cleared by cardiologist due to heart murmur. I’m assuming an x-ray would show what’s going on with the tooth, no?? Or would it have to be some other diagnostic test??
Thank you so much for your response!
Proliferative gums, like tumors anywhere else, don’t have a “purpose” like absorbing something damaged. They are growing in response to an imbalance, most often called vaccinosis in homeopathic parlance. Warts, lumps, malignancies are all on the same spectrum.
Odds are the tooth is an innocent bystander.
Hi, I wonder what Dr Falconer thinks about Pet Wellbeing’s “Young at Heart” & “Healthy Gums”? I’ve been using both on my 9 yo, 8# Pomeranian, level 3 heart murmur with bad teeth situation (so scared to put under for cleaning) for about 2.5 wks.
Thanks so much for your great, informative site Dr!
THANK YOU SO MUCH, Dr. Falconer, for writing such a great article on Dental Health (or the lack of it). I was a holistic dental hygienist prior to my current work as a cat behaviorist and am on the same page as you about this very important topic. Sometimes undesirable cat behavior problems can be eliminated by resolving any existing dental problems. How good would you feel if you had a couple of abscessed teeth or a periodontal infection?
I encourage ALL my cat owner clients to have their pet’s teeth examined clinically carefully at each vet visit. However, digital dental X-rays must be done to see the 2/3 of the teeth under the gumline. Without seeing the that area, serious problems can be easily overlooked. And, since cats mask pain so well, we can’t always assume they don’t have a dental problem if they are acting normally.
Thanks again for addressing such an important health topic! YOU ROCK!!
Lana Rich, Catsultant
What is your thought on Cancer being, not just inflammation, but, a fungus?
I don’t think cancer is inflammation. Research is showing inflammation is involved in allowing it to grow, but it’s an uncontrolled reproduction of once normal cells. That’s quite different than a fungus, which is non-native cells. Another organism. If a dog makes a liver tumor, those are his liver cells wildly dividing to make a mass.
Dr. Simoncini claims there are fungus in cancer tumors, and he has slides showing white areas in cancer cells which are indeed fungus. He has cured many of his patients with antifungals.
Web search Dr. Tullio Simoncini, Oncologist to read about it.
From my research I have found that cancer cells have microbes of one sort or another in them, be it fungus, bacterial or another hybrid (man made) form of microbe, and that killing the microbe causes the cell to revert back to a healthy cell.
Oncologists test the biopsied cells to see what is inside before deciding on a type of chemotherapy, since the type of microbe determines what type of chemo is used. However, it’s well accepted in the medical community that most patients die from the chemotherapy, not their cancer, because chemotherapy does not kill the cancer in the stem cells, making chemo a deadly, and ineffective choice.
There is a wonderful series of interviews by Ty Bolinger called The Truth About Cancer which is an absolute MUST SEE, where he interviews doctors around the world who are CURING cancer without drugs, surgery or radiation.
Thank you for writing about this topic. Last year my dog had an epulis removed behind his lower lateral tooth. He had gum inflammation as well. Epulis was mixed epulis, non cancerous. We were very concerned about the surgery as he is seizure prone. Surgery went well and no new growth in that area. Since the surgery however he hasn’t had interest in his raw bones and I’ve tried many different proteins and brands. The only thing I can get him to chew is a nylabone (which I don’t like bc it’s plastic but am out of options). Also, in May he started to develop another epulis lower molar and 2 gum boils upper gum line. His gum color varies throughout the day between red and normal pink. He is still on his raw Darwins diet, homemade turkey treats, probiotics. I’m again worry about the anesthesia since he’s seizure prone and am puzzled what is causing the inflammation. I don’t want him to have to go in for another surgery year after year. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much, Toni Ann
In a past life, a vet cleaned one of my cats teeth (commercial pet ‘food’) and opened her mouth too wide. She had an issue with eating after that. That’s when I discovered holistic health care – I think it was a chiro I took her to who solved the problem after a few visits. Now, I realise homeopathy could have done it more quickly. And with raw food, it would never have happened in the first place. But we learn, sadly often at our animal’s expense. They are our best teachers, if we will listen.
Dr Falconer I’m a little worried now because my dog chipped one of her canines on the crate once but the vet said it wasn’t anything to worry about. I’ve been feeding chicken leg quarters no problem and she’s eating her raw fine no issues. Do I just keep an eye on the tooth?
A chip is way less an issue than a tooth that’s losing it’s roots, Peter. I’d do two things:
1. keep an eye on it that it’s not getting loose and gums around it getting inflamed, and
2. get some constitutional homeopathy working for her so she builds healthier teeth.
#2 may be less needed if it was a “one off” with a metal impact. More pertinent to those who break teeth while chewing raw bones.